Stanford Scientists Created a Sound So Loud It Instantly Boils Water

Researchers at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory based at Stanford University created an underwater sound so loud that it instantly vaporizes water and appears to set the threshold for how intense sound can be in the water. 

The scientists used SLAC's powerful X-ray laser to blast tiny jets of water with short pulses of high-frequency energy. When the x-rays hit the microscopic stream of water they instantly vaporized the water molecules around them like spit on a hot skillet. They also sent a shock wave traveling through the stream that can actually be seen moving to the left and right of the blast spot below:

After blasting tiny jets of water with an X-ray laser, researchers watched left- and right-moving trains of shockwaves travel away from microbubble-filled regions. 

Claudiu Stan/Rutgers University Newark

What's interesting about this shock wave is that it's strong enough that it's easy to see how it is clearly disturbing the stream of water, but not enough that the molecules completely break down as they do at the point of contact with the powerful X-rays. The researchers suggest that the pressure created by the shock waves was just below this breaking point. That means it would also appear to be the upper limit of how loud a sound can possibly get underwater before it breaks it apart, essentially boiling it on contact.

In other words, yes metal-heads, it is possible to rock so hard that you instantly boil water. In case you're wondering, the sound pressure equivalent of this experiment is 270 decibels. That's louder than a rocket launch and equal to the intensity of directing all the electrical power in an entire city onto one spot. 

If you ever were to experience such a sound directly, earplugs wouldn't help because the intensity would not only rupture your eardrums but probably your heart and lungs as well. 

So definitely don't try this one at home kids and remember: a life filled with smooth jazz is a long life. 

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